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Profile: Reena Ahluwalia

Mar 2, 2014 8:31 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Born in India, Reena Ahluwalia is an award-winning Canadian designer of fine jewelry.

Name: Reena Ahluwalia
From: Toronto, Canada
Company: Reena Ahluwalia Design Inc. – Jewelry Designer & Founder

Rapaport News: What prompted you to pursue a career in jewelry design?

RA: Growing up, I was always imagining, drawing and building things. Thankfully, all this led to my true calling: jewelry design. The jewelry industry gave me the opportunity to tell beautiful stories through my passions for art and engineering.

Rapaport News: From where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

RA: From everything and everywhere, be it nature, culture, history, geometry, architecture, stories, words, feelings or my travels. When these diverse ideas collide and interconnect, I feel inspired to express that in my work.

Rapaport News: Do you have a business philosophy that guides you in your work?

RA: Passion fuels my motivation to create meaningful experiences through my designs. I am guided by my belief that creativity starts from within – we are the writers of our own story and the creators of our own destiny.

Rapaport News: To what extent does your Indian heritage influence your work?

RA: It's a part of my soul. I am very proud of my Indian heritage and my Canadian values. It has filled my work with a range and multiplicity of ideas that I feel is unique and almost magical.

Rapaport News: What has been the most notable change in the jewelry industry during your career?

RA: There have been many. The one that stands out to me is the change in our consumer values, shaped by factors such as technology, innovation, access to information and the idea of social accountability.

Rapaport News: In your view, what are the biggest challenges facing the industry today?

RA: Accepting and responding to change. As our consumer values are changing, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to change our processes to embrace that change.

Rapaport News: What do you consider to be your greatest professional accomplishment?

RA: I have been honored to have had several so far. One of my diamond jewels was featured on a special-edition Belgian postage stamp. I also designed a unique diamond-setting for the historic mace of Ontario using the first diamonds from Ontario, upon the invitation of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (Canada). And in 2012, Rio Tinto Diamonds entrusted me with creating an inaugural collection using the first diamonds recovered at the Bunder Mine in Madhya Pradesh, India.

However, I feel that my greatest accomplishment is yet to come.

Rapaport News: How important are ethical issues to jewelry consumers and how do you ensure your work is ethically sourced?

RA: There is a seismic shift in consumer values and ethical issues are high on the list of core values. Today's consumer is far more informed than previous generations. Stewardship of environment, origin of materials and sustainability are important to jewelry consumers. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." I make sure I carry these values in my work. It’s not easy as a small business owner and designer, but I believe that being authentic, asking the right questions and doing due diligence provides the right result.

Rapaport News: What is your view on the growth of synthetic diamonds in the market?

RA: Lab-grown diamonds are the way forward for the diamond industry. From my point of view, lab-grown diamonds provide a tremendous value for retailers and designers. These diamonds are not only origin-guaranteed, conflict and human-abuse free, ecologically and environmentally sustainable, but they’re also a triumph of human innovation. For consumers today, that is a story that is hard to top. Unfortunately, I see a deep fear of change in the diamond industry when it comes to lab-grown diamonds that detracts from the opportunities they present. All I can say is to watch this space, there is more to come.

Rapaport News: What advice do you have for someone starting out in the jewelry industry?

RA: Don't be in a hurry. Work hard, never stop learning and stay honest to your work. Enjoy your journey. Know that each experience counts – good or bad. In the end, do whatever you do for the love of it, or don't do it at all.

Rapaport News: Where do you envision your business 10 years from now?

RA: I am motivated by the ideas of progression and refinement in everything I do. My vision is to reach a wider audience, to continue on a path toward creating beautiful designs using tools, techniques and material that were not possible 10 years ago. These ideas keep me invested in the future.
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